7 tips to try tonight to improve your child’s sleep

Coorie Doon Baby is passionate about helping mums and dads teach their children healthy sleep habits – I believe sleep is as important as nutrition, exercise and education and is a skill.
Teaching a child healthy sleep habits is a combination of lots of different things, so there is no one magic potion but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some helpful shortcuts, either!
With that in mind, Coorie Doon Baby would like to share with EncycloKidia members 7 sensible things you can start trying over the next few days to get your child sleeping better.

Corrie Doon Baby Guide to improving child’s sleep

#1: Watch the waking hours

One of the BIGGEST enemies of sleep – especially for younger children – is overtiredness… and many parents are surprised to learn just how soon their babies and toddlers get overtired!
Here’s a quick guide to the awake time between naps during the day:
Newborns (0-12 weeks): 45 minutes of awake time
3-5 months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time
6-8 months: 2-3 hours of awake time
9-12 months: 3-4 hours of awake time
13 months to 2.5 years: 5-6 hours of awake time
If you make sure that your child is put down for naps BEFORE they get overtired, you’ll find that they fall asleep more easily at naptime… AND that they are more relaxed at bedtime, too!

#2: Make it Really Dark

We humans (babies and toddlers included) sleep better in the dark.
Try making your child’s room as dark as possible. (I recommend using blackout blinds, taping cardboard over the windows, or whatever it takes!)
In some cases, even the dim glow from a night-light or hall light can be enough to disrupt your child’s sleep cycle!
BONUS TIP: keep your child’s room as dark as possible during daytime naps, too. This can often make a BIG difference in how long your child will nap during the day!

#3: Be Predictable and Consistent

Babies and toddlers love predictable routines. And a predictable bedtime routine (lasting about 30-45 minutes) is a great way to let your child know when the time for sleep is coming. This cue can help make them feel secure and safe too.
A typical bedtime routine might look something like this:
1. bath (5 minutes)
2. put on pajamas (5 minutes)
3. read a story or sing some songs (10 minutes)
4. nursing or bottle (10 minutes)
Make sure that you are consistent with your routine and be a little boring after the routine is complete. For example, your child might throw his teddy out the cot trying to drag out bedtime this can become a game of catch for mum or dad.
Don’t get pulled into the games.
Calmly return the item without saying a word. Be boring, and the games shouldn’t last too long!

#4: Feed AFTER Naps, Not Before

For a lot of babies and toddlers, the single biggest reason they don’t sleep well has to do with a feeding-sleep association.
In other words, your child has “linked” the ideas of feeding and sleeping. They think that they need a bottle or nursing BEFORE they can fall asleep.
By feeding right after naptime – instead of before – you can help your child break this feeding-sleep association.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This strategy should only be used before naps, not before putting your child to bed for the night. (A full tummy is needed to make sure your child doesn’t wake up hungry during the night!)

#5: Same Place, Same Time

Remembering that our children love predictability, it’s a good idea to have your child sleep in the same place – at the same time – MOST days
I say MOST days as I understand that for a variety of reasons it’s not always practical that naptime happens in the same place as night-time sleep – But do try this…. for many parents, simply changing WHERE their child naps during the day causes a big improvement in the length and quality of night-time sleep.
BONUS TIP: When you are putting your child to sleep for the night, it’s a good idea to make sure that they fall asleep where you want them to stay asleep.
In other words, if your child falls asleep in your arms on the couch and then wakes up during the night in a completely different place (like their cot), chances are they’ll be surprised… and start crying to let you know about it!

#6: Try The 1, 2, 3 system

When your child wakes up during the night – or during a nap – and starts crying or fussing, try to wait a specific length of time before going in to check on them.
The first day you try this, I recommend waiting exactly one minute before going in to check on your child. On the second day, wait two minutes. Three minutes on the third day, and so on.
Why?
Well, everyone (babies and toddlers included) will wake up briefly at the end of each sleep cycle. babies and toddlers sleep cycle are about 45-min.
Most adults wake so briefly that we don’t even remember it in the morning. But children who haven’t learned to fall asleep independently need a little longer.
This “1, 2, 3? System gives your child the opportunity to get themselves back to sleep – without your help. And once your child has learned this skill, you’re home free!

#7: Take Five

Before you put your child to bed (for naps or at night-time), make sure the five-minute period before they are put to bed is very calm and relaxing.
No throwing your toddler in the air… or watching TV… or tickle fights… in the five minutes immediately before bed.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Coorie Doon Baby totally encourages tickle fights and any other kinds of rowdy fun you can think of with your children. It’s fun for the whole family! Just NOT in the five minutes before bed. (Right after waking up is a great time to play!)

The Next Step?

Like I said, these are “shortcuts” – things that, for some parents, are the missing piece of the jigsaw that gets their child sleeping better, if however, you need a little more help and guidance then please contact Nadia Edwards at Coorie Doon Baby I offer customised plans around you and your childs needs all over the country via Phone or Skype.

This guest blog was written by Nadia Edwards of Corried Doon Baby. For more information please contact Corrie Doon Directly

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About Shweta

Shweta runs the data team at EncycloKidia so her brain is a massive repository of all kid's services out there. After some persuasion, we were able to get her to look up from her spreadsheets and share some of her priceless knowledge with us.
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